Today is the 6th anniversary of our engagement. I don’t think I’ve told the story of our engagement here so I’ll do that now. Ryan and I had been dating almost 2 years and had been talking about our future but nothing had happened. He was still in law school (in his last semester) and I was still in grad school (still a year from finishing) and I knew he wanted to finish law school before committing to anything. This knowledge did not make me anymore patient. I had actually bid on my dream wedding gown on Ebay, the day before we got engaged, March 14, 2003. Afterwards he asked if I knew it was going to happen. I honestly didn’t know. I just figured I was going to get married at some point in my life and that was the dress I wanted so I better bid and get it, I didn’t want to lose it!
Around the beginning of March, Ryan told me to make reservations to have my dog, Sully boarded for the weekend of March 14-15. He said he had tickets to a World War II Era hangar dance at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston and then we were going to College Station to meet Maria and Brien, my best friend and her husband, and see an Aggie baseball game. Ryan was in the Corps of Cadets when he was at A&M and they wear WWII-style military uniforms. All he had to do was update the patches and brass (he decided he was an Eighth Air Force Captain) and he was all set to look the part of a WWII flyboy. He also wore his old Senior Boots since I never got to see him, much less go out with him in his boots (we didn’t know each other at A&M). I had a vintage-style floral dress that I wore and my mom came over and styled my hair in a “Victory Roll” and put a magnolia in it (since I’m a Southern girl.)
We had a wonderful time. They had a big band playing and we danced the jitterbug until our feet felt like they were going to fall off. Speaking of feet. We were taking a break and walking through the hangar/museum. The museum was originally a private collection of vintage aircraft and is now the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame. The hangar dance is one of the Museum’s major fundraisers. The museum houses a large number of WWII and other vintage warbirds so Ryan was definitely in his element. He eats that stuff up. Anyway, back to the story, we were walking around and one of the museum officials saw Ryan in his boots and called out “Hey, you earn the right to wear those boots, boy?” Senior Boots are a highly prized privilege, you can’t just go out and buy a pair to wear, you have to earn to right to wear them through 3 years of hell. Ryan turns and says something like “Yes sir, Squadron 17, Class of ’99”. Well, that starts a small-scale Corps reunion, turns out a whole mess of them that sat on the board of the museum were in the Corps way back when. They asked if I was his wife. I said “No, just his girlfriend.” They gave him a hard time over that. Telling him to “Make an honest woman of me.” (Not sure I liked that too much, but whatever). I wonder what he was thinking during all that ribbing since he was planning on proposing that night?
We left Galveston and headed up to College Station. When we got to campus Ryan suggested we take a walk around. He said he hadn’t walked around campus in his boots in years and he wanted to “feel the old magic again.” So we started over by the Quad and then headed north towards the area of campus where I lived during most of my years at A&M. We passed the Century Tree on our way north and for half a second I thought he might do it but when we passed the tree by, the idea went too. (Note: The Century Tree is a VERY old tree with arch-like branches and a bench underneath. It is the traditional place where Aggies get engaged and have been doing so for over 100 years.) We continued our walk over by the 2 halls I lived in on the Northside and by then it was pretty late, around 2:15am on the 15th, so we decided to head back south to the car.
(Obviously this photo was not taken that night, this was a reenactment for one of our engagement portraits, taken under the Century Tree).
As we were walking back, Ryan starts to complain that his boots are hurting his legs so he’s going to go sit down. Part of the Century Tree tradition is that if you go under the tree on your own, you’ll never marry (sort of like sweeping under someone’s feet). I believed in that superstition religiously. If I had a class in the Academic Building (which the Century Tree is in front of), I would go out of my way to avoid walking under that tree or any part of that tree. My friends all thought I was nuts. When Ryan wanted to go sit under the tree, THAT TREE! I thought he was nuts. DUH! I am a blonde. Once it dawned on me why he wanted me to come sit with him under the tree I moved with a purpose, I can assure you!
I sat down and noticed him fidgeting with his pocket. I was so nervous, like first date nervous…weird, huh? The next thing I knew I heard him say “Oh forget it, ” (he was having a hard time getting the box out of his pocket and blew his rehearsed speech) and he was down on one knee in front of me proposing. I started crying, said yes and then told him to put it on me. We hugged, we kissed and then made our way back to the car calling everyone (where I learned that everyone knew it was happening that night but me). By the end of the night we had checked the upcoming Aggie football schedule and set a date of November 15, 2003, an away game weekend.
It’s been a whirlwind 6 years, including 2 where I’ve barely even seen him, but I wouldn’t trade a second. I truly believe we were made for each other. I love you sweetie! Happy 6th Engagement Anniversary!